Opinions. Everybody Has 'Em.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Not One Iota of F**k To Be Given!

So another birthday goes by ( in a suitably beer-flavored blur ) and with the passing of one more year of life I find myself giving one less iota of fuck about the opinions others may have of me or of the way that I do things. I mean, I stopped giving much of a fuck about all that a long, long time ago ( not that I ever was overly-concerned with what others were thinking of or about me ) but with every year older I get the negative balance of fucks given increases exponentially.

I doubt I would ever have been the kind to give much of a fuck but for sure the circumstances under which this tendency developed into an integral part of my makeup occurred early on in my life when, through events beyond our control in the 1970s, my folks and me had to move from the city to a small town. Unfortunately it turned out to be a small town which could have taken a starring role in any Stephen King novel…only minus the decency to be at least cool enough to be terrorized by a psychotic clown named Pennywise or infested with vampires. The evil of our small town was just as banal as most real evil is and grew largely from the twin roots of insularity and ignorance. For me, going to school there was a daily waking nightmare. Sometimes I think the only reason I got through it was that the whole experience quickly became fodder for my imagination and love of writing stories. Anyway, I spent years striving to get away from that small town and once I did, I spent more years scrubbing from memory all trace of that part of my past which had held little joy but altogether too much resentment and bitterness. Then one day, long after I’d left it behind and was just visiting my parents there, the one-time best friend of a girl who had spent every school day of our lives creating as much merry hell for me as she could get away with, buttonholed me on the street and began chatting away as though we had been the best friends. She particularly could not wait to inform me how that once BFF of hers had wound up spawning three kids to three different guys and super-sizing herself before the age of twenty-five. I realized two things that day: one, bullies really don’t recall that they were bullies, and there really is no point in either reminding them or holding a grudge over what they did to you; and two, that you really shouldn’t put too much stock in how others feel about you because there is nowt so fickle and wont to change as human feelings about other human beings. The person who was your best friend one day may indeed be your mortal enemy next day.

As a result of this now-forgotten past in the ignorantly evil mire of a small town, the very notion of things like school reunions and friending old classmates on social media sites just fucking baffles me. Truth is, I stopped giving a fuck about those people so long ago that today I fail to see any value in either my knowing what they are up to nor in them knowing diddly-squat about me. Yes, some people do like to indulge in “Look at me now!” with the citizens of that foreign country called The Past but to me their motivation for this is a mystery. Are they so starved of adult self-esteem that they need to prove something to people with whom they shared a mutual dislike thirty years ago? People whom they haven’t seen nor heard from since the last day they all ran out of the school gates, breathing a collective sigh of relief that this hideous part of their lives was now over. Or have their adult lives turned out to be so drearily disappointing that they feel the need to relive their glory days as the teenage Prom Queen? Does it make them feel better to know that at least they haven’t been through as many husbands as Betsy Whatserface? Does it boost their flagging ego to think, “Hey, Johnny Whosit is only a welder and not the manager of a second-hand furniture store like I am!”

How ineffably sad. For them.

Today we live in a world which moves faster - and arguably moves through shallower waters - than ever before, a world in which people come and go from our lives with dizzying rapidity, people who might live halfway around the world and whom we’ve never event met except in an online forum. Out of the many hundreds of these ‘friends’ we all have, we may make an actual connection with a mere handful, the rest being just monikers attached to thumbnail pictures with whom we occasionally share a meme or like a link. We should be concerned even less than ever with the opinions these amorphous others have of us. It further baffles me then why anyone should be so concerned with their online image, to the point of carefully editing every comment they type, and selecting only pictures and links that will put them in a favorable light. Favorable to whom? That housewife from Bumfuck, Idaho who friended you because you listed ‘knitting and baking’ amongst your hobbies and because you had ninety-nine friends in common ( the one-hundredth person unfriended you just prior to this because you stopped liking the Lol Cats )? Or the guy who used to sit three rows behind you in high-school Biology and whose once-only exchange with you consisted of “Outta the way!” on the stairs? And even that you don’t recall because you were too busy gabbing to your girlfriends. Or are you one of those writers/artists/whatevers who fear that your ‘fans’ will desert you in droves if they find out that you aren’t the down-home Chatty Cathy always smiling and baking apple pies for the neighborhood folks that you spend all that time and effort trying to come across as, but that you are in fact as capable as the rest of us of being a downright foul-mouthed bitch on wheels when you get a raft of martinis in you?

So you’re human. My, my. Imagine that. Now get the fuck over it. And yourself.